Rachel & Vidoc FE520

Home Forums Rachel & Vidoc FE520

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 52 total)
  • Author
  • #3388
    Alana McGee

    Been sick since the weekend, helper not available today but is looking forward to help on another day and finally soccer field unavailable either because of kids playing there. But I will practice in that field some more so they become more comfortable that hides can be in the middle of a field!

    So I just opted for the patch of grass behind my house where I hardly train. There are 3 hides in small round tins hidden under leaves. Vidoc was first to do the search and it was cooking for about half an hour. Hardly any wind as you might see. He offers a nice alert by lying down and waiting for me 🙂

    Alana McGee

    We simply love watching Vidoc (& you) go through these exercises. It is cathartic and peaceful and just fun to watch. We don?t really have all that much to comment on. You guys look really good. I really love Vidoc’s ease of presence in the situation. He is working, but relaxed. Love it.

    I actually really like this space for you guys to work in. You say you don?t use it much, but I think it is a good size with mix of ground and side cover etc. It?s also good that you hardly train there. We like that for the boys, different scenery. I can see bikers going by at one point so I understand why it may be difficult on occasion.

    We had a question:

    Vidoc is so ?chill? (in a good relaxed way) when you start the searches- do you ?prime? him at all, or is that just Vidoc? We know he has extensive years of search experience history, but it?s impressive, and we are curious. If not, we would say try it once as it is our observation that once Vidoc was certain what his odor was, he finds them exceptionally quickly. Not that his time searching is long or stressed- at all- don?t get us wrong, just curious to see the difference in behavior if that was not something you were already doing.

    Lovely alerting and kudos to you for allowing his alert chain of behaviors to evolve!

    You guys look fabulous. Can?t wait to see him (& you) on buried hides- and blind hides- but Vidoc is so solid, as are you with him in your connection and interpretation of behaviors (and kudos for your body posture and just how you respond to him), that we don?t expect there to be any surprises that may not be strictly environmental.

    Good work.

    Hope you are beginning to feel better!

    Alana McGee

    Aww thanks so much for the nice feedback!!! It’s very rewarding to work with Vidoc; he makes it look so easy.

    There are some distractions such as people, bikers and cars in the back of the field behind trees. No big deal for Vidoc but Esprit scans the environment however is totally able to work with the distractions except he has to acknowledge them

    I am glad this field is a good one to use as it is convenient for me and always available.

    Yes I primed Vidoc before heading out the door. Especially since we are so used working perimeters and never worked the middle of a field with no visuals in the past.

    Vidoc is a lot calmer when we go to an “open space” vs. searching in my patio or in the house. In the past there were moments where he got totally excited.

    Alana McGee

    The last couple days felt a bit frustrating. I practiced with two metal tea bags that I initially buried a bit too deep plus packed solid earth on top of it. Both Vidoc and Esprit found the first hide but it took forever for the 2nd one so I called them off. In yesterdays 2nd session it got too dark, both boys didn?t find their hides so I just had Byuti (my third Malinois) finishing up. Boy did she nail those hides, took me by surprise. Talk about a zippy firecracker LOL.

    But we learned in the last couple days and I was confident Vidoc can do both hides and make that in daylight.

    2 sessions with each 2 buried hides:

    Alana McGee

    [quote] Both Vidoc and Esprit found the first hide but it took forever for the 2nd one so I called them off. [/quote]

    It?s ok if it takes a while! Make sure if you ?call them off? You end with a manufactured success. This is EXACTLY why we have those targets on us when we practice. There are always times when it is a good idea to manufacture success if the dogs are having a hard time. We do it.

    Example: Yesterday I was out checking a site (it?s early here for production) and while Lo found one and was trying very very hard, I manufactured many successes as we searched the area. (And it wasn?t a big area.) That?s ok. Learn your & their limits. We don?t want to frustrate them, but later that amount of time in-between targets is not uncommon. We are making the situation much harder and there are MANY factors at play, including (But certainly not limited to) wind, soil composition, odor strength, scent cone dispersion, canine health, etc.

    It is always a 🙂 to hear Byuti rocked it!

    We know you know this- but we say it with other students in mind so they can begin to internalize this through reading your descriptions of what was going on:

    You may not know exactly why the boys were having a hard time, but one of the MOST IMPORTANT lessons about being a handler is NOT beating yourself up about training scenarios (or actual hunting) or how it went during, or after the after the fact. Analyze and review yes, fret/stress? no.

    Try not to stress about it. (*i know that can be hard). The dogs DO pick up on your elevated stress levels if this is going on during a session. (* not to add more stress, but just do a ?shake off? like a dog would, and let it go.) This is good advice to ALL students.

    We often have expectations, hopes, and desires going into searches, but try to let go of those things and be in the moment. I?m not trying to sound overly zen, but I speak from experience. It will make a world of difference if you can just be present and try not to worry about ?how the session goes?.

    We all do it, but if you just are there, and are reading your dog?s signals and offering success when needed- Your dog wins, and so therefore, you win. For them, it was fun! (even if it is a manufactured success) It?s us humans who put too much weight on the end goal occasionally. Again, yes, review and evaluate where the disconnect may have happened, but don?t dwell. They won! Frankly, that?s all that matters.

    We have every confidence in you & the boys.

    For whatever reason, it didn?t go the way you planned. Totally frustrating, I know! It?s actually a very good lesson Rachel, as you know 🙂 and one we as handlers (even us- or at least me!) still struggle with on occasion. IT?s ok it got dark. Happens. I?ve left targets out for a day and gone back the next day.

    Question to you-

    You said ?packed the soil down?. How long did you let the targets sit then. We know you know this, but for the benefit of other students: When burying, you need to let them sit for a few minutes. You ideally need to give the odor a chance to permeate the soil around it.

    Are you still using frozen pieces? (That?s totally fine!!! Just wondering)

    I like your start sequence 🙂 (My own dog Ryu just got very excited at Vidoc?s excitement in searching!)
    Vidoc did a good job cutting across boundaries (leaving the perimeter 🙂 )
    Again, as always, great alert, focus, and reward sequence from the both of you. The two of you really are an awesome example of fluid communication.
    I LOVE how he actually threw the target behind him when digging there on the 2nd one. That happens, and it is a great opportunity. We cover this later (how to specifically train for it). The way he turns and tracks to it is fabulous. (We?ll still have you practice that drill when we get there- but good information for you in general on how he handles that situation.

    Second Environment:
    We haven?t *seen this area before (I know you practice here from description) but this is a very good area too! Like it a lot actually as it does provide more distraction and moves you into things we will be talking about next lesson I think.

    Fabulous! He does great, you do great. I really credit you on being confident in waiting for his actual strong alert on target. It?s hard to do! Good job, and it really is seamless and well done.

    at 2:42, good. He had previously been in an area you were trying to restrict and he was responding to verbal cue to return to your desired search area. What you do really well here is you realize your other body language is not signaling what you want to him and so you physically start walking and moving in the direction you want him to focus. Well done Rachel. Very nice blend & balance.
    really good 🙂 All of it. Well done!

    Alana McGee

    Thanks for the awesome feedback! Vidoc spoils me so much with his noise! I had the extra hide with me to end the sessions I was hoping for more successfully.

    [quote]You said packed the soil down?. How long did you let the targets sit then? [/quote]
    I forgot how long but would say 15 minutes if not longer. Should have written it down but I clearly remember that I let it cook for some time.

    [quote]Are you still using frozen pieces? [/quote]
    Yes still and always using frozen pieces. However I still used the pieces I got a long time ago and that I used a lot plus had them previously stored in the fridge with eggs. I can smell them.
    Anyhow I used ?new frozen truffle pieces? in yesterday?s successful sessions.

    But I think I jumped criteria way too much in the first searches and in yesterday’s went with a “fresher” truffle and the hole might have been a wee bit less deep and definitely not “air tight” closed with packed soil.

    [quote]Second Environment:
    We haven?t *seen this area before (I know you practice here from description) but this is a very good area too! [/quote].
    Just a very small patch of grass above the little soccer field.

    Alana McGee

    The boys got another session this evening before it got dark. I was hoping for a shorter time frame with Vidoc but it took him 6 minutes plus for all 5 targets. I edited out some part of the end to keep the video a wee bit shorter. But you can tell he got stuck with the last target. I don’t think he really saw me removing some soil from the hole but noticed my body when he turned around.

    Truffles are underneath the earth. How deep down are they and how solid is soil above it? I am seeing a huge difference when the hole is just a bit deeper and I am using packed soil to cover it. I mean makes sense. So just wondering if it’s a learning curve that takes time.

    Because of a busy day tomorrow plus a change in weather I am posting the longish video. You can just watch it up to 3 minutes.

    Alana McGee

    HI Rachel!

    I haven’t watched the video yet as my internet is cutting in and out and it won’t load at present, but until I can, here were my comments on your question.

    I’ll let you know comments in a bit if I can get the internet working properly again, or in the (my) am.

    As for where truffles are found.

    For you and what you are looking for it will be a bit variable.

    If you decide to take the boys on a trip to italy and just happen to go ‘walking around the country side? (we may have some places you can actually go on a friends property) you more likely will be dealing more with truffles in grass kinds of situations, like where oak trees & willow & beech trees are. if there isn?t actual tall grass around the trees in these areas it will be leaf litter on top of a medium kind of body of soil generally. Not super compacted.

    For near you in Switzerland (and we?ll connect you with scientists there later) you will more likely be in conifer forests with duff needles so the soil won?t be ?so? compact. Depth ranges from about an inch to about maybe 6 inches for what you will be looking for primarily- but again, it can be variable. They can be breaking the surface/ causing cracks in the ground.

    Soil ranges from hard clay types to sandy areas. Generally it won?t be super hard though. disable. Like I imagine the soccer field.

    The more the soil is ?packed? down, the longer you need to leave the target to cook ideally. It does get more challenging with depth, but it is a learning curve and it will get easier with time. They haven’t really ever done many buried hides before, so it’s a new thing!

    Alana McGee

    Vidoc does an excellent job with the first one. pretty darn perfect.

    The second one was one of the closer hides. Great- again, flawless on both your parts!

    The 3rd one is really good too.

    Good work on putting them all close together. This is a hard scenario, but you guys did really well. Though it took some time, that?s ok! This is a harder scenario because the targets, being close, are mingling odor around and it can be difficult for a dog to pick out just one scent column to follow from the multiple that exist in an area. It is very like real world scenarios. Really well done honestly, though it may seem it took a while.

    Whats interesting is he keeps returning (not alerting, but returning) to the sites of the previous hides. Likely because he?s having difficultly isolating the other columns in the area and is following the remnants of what is there. That?s ok, it?s just interesting. He is trying really hard, and investigating all leads as it were.

    If he got stuck in a situation like that for a longer period of time a couple things to do- one- slowly move out of that area yourself so you encourage searching elsewhere and then return again. two- move slightly off of where the targets were hidden and offer him a manufactured success, and then keep going.

    He is trying really hard to find it! And again, this is a relatively hard scenario with targets close together. Vidoc is a dog whom we think will keep working until he finds it, but we want it to be fun, so start to begin to gauge what is an acceptable about of time searching without having a success before he starts to get signs of frustration. Err on the conservative side and then you can build it up to more time in-between finds.. We talk about it in FE530 in searching negative spaces.

    What you did at 3:13 is perfect. Because those hides were all pretty close the area is mixed up with odor moving around, bringing him back to the general area where he semi alerted was a good instinct on your part and then once he is there and alerts again, you are ready to reinforce that.

    Overall really nice Rachel. Again, your instincts are right on target. Vidoc did fabulously as well. it was a tougher scenario. The only thing I would mention is be prepared to offer a manufactured success to Vidoc in a scenario like that (especially if you are doing at a s blind hide- and can?t help by uncovering a bit of the soil.)

    Again, I wouldn?t be too concerned about the soil/ depth etc. It is a learning curve and these being close in proximity was a tough one. But you both did very very well.

    Alana McGee

    So far we did 3 sessions in new places. I don’t think a new environment is a bit challenge for my dogs as they are used to train in new habitats and do a great job with generalizing. But I think the added difficulty of burying targets is still a challenge. Maybe the frozen truffles (bought a new one a bit before this session 2 started and stored it in pieces frozen) are not that distinct in smell?

    Thursday afternoon I lost one tea egg out of a total of 5 targets.Both boys were unable to find all 5 targets. The targets were buried for about 5 minutes.

    Friday afternoon I had no car, buried 5 targets in the woods a bit behind my car. I let it cook for over one hour (picked up the car during that time). Again both both were unable to find all 5 targets. I think all the heavy and wet leaves added to the difficulty plus the earth was wet and packed too. Lost one small round tin.

    And today, Sunday afternoon, our 3rd session with buried targets in a new environment. I used 2 small round tins and 5 plastic valves. Because it was a beautiful fall day tons of people out. I finally found a nice spot but you will hear an old grumpy guy who was threatening with the cops because I drove a short distance were cars are not allowed (next to construction vehicles). Didn’t bother Vidoc though.

    So that’s just part of our session today. Actually I got Vidoc out of the car a total of 3 times in the hope to find the 2nd small round tin but again another got lost.

    I am bit uncertain how to continue now. I don’t think a new environment is the issue, it’s the digging part. I don’t go deep. I also don’t know what kind of a target to use. I only have one small round tin left and 1 tea egg. I can get tea eggs but they are a bit bulky I think. I have a nice variety of valves left though. And I need to mark it a thread as I can’t remember where I buried those targets.

    Alana McGee

    LOTS of comments on this analysis. Grab a pen 😉

    Vidoc is such a hard worker! Just love his persistence!

    Alana McGee

    Thank you Kristine!

    Yes it’s an pond at the bottom behind the trees. Living in Switzerland with so many hills yes we were working on a small hill.

    Vidoc’s first two hides were buried tins (the small round ones I got from your store). So no visual cues at all. I pushed the vales into the grass/dirt and there was no way to see them.

    We started burying targets last week and due to my crazy busy schedule recently we haven’t done lots of locating targets underground. I certainly will go back to hide targets in the grassy areas by my house (mark them too) so we get plenty of practice with that. That’s very new for my dogs finding something underground and we will need a lot more practice.

    The pieces of frozen truffle have been used in the training targets for the past few weeks since this class started. So yes they have been thawed out multiple times and refrozen multiple times.
    Just recently when I came back with the buried training targets I cleaned the tins and plastic valves with a wet towel (valves were used in this session the first time though) and I clearly remember that I put the truffles on a paper towel while I was cleaning the tins and valves. BTW the valves sill cary the truffles in it (call me lazy and cheap but it’s more being ignorant).

    Maybe I have thawed out and refrozen the truffles for 10 to 15 times and yes there was always a piece of frozen truffle in the target. I always put a piece into training target and then start hiding it unless we are driving to a new place.

    Alana McGee

    If you have easy access to some new frozen (or fresh) truffles, let’s get you using a new source. Are your current pieces getting pretty mushy? Can you still smell them?

    Now seems like a good time to start thinking about getting some fresh. If they are hard to find right now, I think it won’t be too long before you can get some.

    Because Vidoc is SO specific and detail oriented (and demonstrating that he knows the difference between a hole with actual truffle scent and a hole with residual odor), it seems like a good time to put the real thing in front of him.

    Alana McGee

    It’s only a time factor getting fresh ones. There is the market every Saturday but I am usually busy on Saturdays. And there is a store that should carry some but only open on Thursdays. Will check if I can get a truffle from the store this Thursday.

    But how many should I get? Shall I freeze them or use it first for a training session and freeze them? And rather buy a new one every 2nd week or so?

    [quote] it seems like a good time to put the real thing in front of him.[/quote]
    And what do you mean by that? Using a fresh whole truffle and no tin? Bury it?

    Alana McGee

    I mean fresh truffles. We will still use the tin. Transitioning to truffles with no tin happens later when everything else is solid. If done too soon, it can get very expensive between lost, eaten and damaged truffles 😉

    Ideally you would buy fresh, train on them fresh for a few sessions, freeze them before the go bad and then buy another round of fresh. Buying every two weeks would be great if you can buy small quantities at a good price and just keep the rotation going. That way you get training on fresh, continue with frozen during the time between buying fresh and will also have variety in your source.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 52 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.